News Feature | October 2, 2013

Enjoying Heineken On Draught At Home Could Be Easier Than Making Coffee

Source: Food Online
Sam Lewis

By Sam Lewis, associate editor
Follow Me On Twitter @SamIAmOnFood


Dutch brewing company plans to unveil at home beer dispenser in late October

Inviting your buddies over to your house for a few beers on tap soon might be as easy as pulling up a stool next to your pals at the pub. At least that’s what Heineken is hoping for.

With the help of designer Marc Newsom, Heineken plans to debut its beer dispenser in design capitals Paris and Milan later this month. Currently, details about the machine’s design or even its price point are not available, but the company believes this idea could be a huge success. Why not give it a try? Green Mountain Coffee Roasters and SodaStream both found winners in do-it-yourself beverage making systems, Heineken thinks the idea could be a kegerator for the less mechanically inclined.

However, this isn’t a new idea for Heineken. In 2006, the company built a relationship with Krups, a German kitchen appliance manufacturer, to create the BeerTender draught system. This system involved a machine that looked a lot like a Keurig coffee maker, but rather than placing dry coffee cups in the appliance, a 5-liter keg was installed. Prior to BeerTender, Interbrew, now owned by Anheuser-Busch InBev, partnered with Phillips in 2004 to create the Perfect Draft appliance. This brand new idea provided the model for the BeerTender but used its own specific Stella Artois and Jupiler 6-liter kegs.

In theory, these machines sound like a wonderful idea, but they haven’t really caught on with beer-drinking consumers. Providing fresh beer is a much greater challenge than making fresh coffee. While the beer appliances keep the beverage cold for weeks, DIY coffee makers are successful due to the day-in, day-out fresh nature of the machines. The shelf life of homemade soda also gives DIY soda machines the upper hand versus beer. Unopened, soda will maintain its quality much longer than beer — with many styles suffering deterioration in freshness with age. The market for mini-kegs is also in question. Having a keg sitting on the kitchen counter is much less convenient (and might send an undesirable message to houseguests) than keeping a six-pack in the refrigerator.

These at-home beer systems haven’t really seen success thus far, but by designing a brand new appliance, Heineken feels that the market may be ready for them. The explosion Green Mountain and Keurig have seen over the last few years for single cups of coffee set the stage for SodaStream to capitalize on the “make your own at home” beverage market. SodaStream’s starter kits saw sales climb 25 percent last year. Heineken is hoping to find the same “lightning in a bottle” and capture a market that has had little success before.

Whether or not the market is ready for this novelty is still in question. Heineken, with its innovations in packaging and advertising, wants to push not only its own limits, but to also see what customers are willing to accept. The company says it wants to be the “Apple in the beer market.” Still, at least for the time being, it seems that consumers who really desire the convenience of their favorite beer on tap in their home will be better served with a kegerator system, as opposed to a mini-keg dispensing system on their counter.